Different sources and degradation state of dissolved, particulate, and sedimentary organic matter along the Eurasian Arctic coastal margin

Emma Karlsson, Johan Gelting, Tommaso Tesi, Bart van Dongen, August Andersson, Igor Petrovich Semiletov, Alexander Charkin, Oleg Victorovich Dudarev, Örjan Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Thawing Arctic permafrost causes massive fluvial and erosional releases of dissolved and particulate organic carbon (DOC and POC) to coastal waters. Here we investigate how different sources and degradation of remobilized terrestrial carbon may affect large-scale carbon cycling, by comparing molecular and dual-isotope composition of waterborne high molecular weight DOC (>1 kD, aka colloidal OC), POC, and sedimentary OC (SOC) across the East Siberian Arctic Shelves. Lignin phenol fingerprints demonstrate a longitudinal trend in relative contribution of terrestrial sources to coastal OC. Wax lipids and cutins were not detected in colloidal organic carbon (COC), in contrast to POC and SOC, suggesting that different terrestrial carbon pools partition into different aquatic carrier phases. The Δ14C signal suggests overwhelmingly contemporary sources for COC, while POC and SOC are dominated by old C from Ice Complex Deposit (ICD) permafrost. Monte Carlo source apportionment (δ13C, Δ14C) constrained that COC was dominated by terrestrial OC from topsoil permafrost (65%) and marine plankton (25%) with smaller contribution ICD and other older permafrost stocks (9%). This distribution is likely a result of inherent compositional matrix differences, possibly driven by organomineral associations. Modern OC found suspended in the surface water may be more exposed to degradation, in contrast to older OC that preferentially settles to the seafloor where it may be degraded on a longer timescale. The different sources which partition into DOC, POC, and SOC appear to have vastly different fates along the Eurasian Arctic coastal margin and may possibly respond on different timescales to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-919
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • biomarkers
  • carbon isotopes
  • coastal Arctic
  • degradation state
  • organic matter
  • source apportionment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Different sources and degradation state of dissolved, particulate, and sedimentary organic matter along the Eurasian Arctic coastal margin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this